March 20, 2021

Weekend Recap: Spring Break Ski Lessons

This weekend was the start of spring break for many Americans (though in Colorado we do ours a week later), which meant it was a prime weekend / week for teaching skiing. I had signed up to work Sunday and Monday, taking a vacation day from my consulting job to do so. However, the impending blizzard meant I actually needed to head out to the mountains Friday in order to beat the storm, as I was worried the roads would close… so I signed up to teach on Saturday as well. My mom was a little reluctant to be left at home, but I knew she’d be fine – she was fully stocked on food, was unlikely to experience power outages (the majority of power lines in Superior are underground), and I had several neighbors on call to look out for her. So, off I went!

I did a 30 minute Peloton class Friday morning to get my fix before I left, and also took Sadie for a 4.5 mile run so she’d have some exercise. I then had a few presentations to do, and planned to leave during some midday meetings where I could listen on the phone and not be at my computer. But right as I was about to leave Superior, a friend texted me that there was a hazmat accident that had closed I-70… no!! I was hoping that leaving midday Friday would help me beat the traffic / snow / accidents. But, miracle of miracles, I managed to take back roads to get around the closure, and ended up making it to my house in just 2.5 hours, or about 30 minutes longer than usual. I even had time to stop at the grocery in Vail to pick up sushi for a late lunch while delivering my next presentation.

The rest of my afternoon was a lot of coaching calls, which were great, but went longer than expected. Although I had planned to get a lot more work done Friday night, I barely had time to fire off a few emails and then throw together a quick dinner before it was time for a Zoom cocktail class I had signed up for.

My friend Cathryn had organized the cocktail class as a fundraiser for our local high school. MoHi has a coffee cart that is run by the special education department, so Cathryn was able to coordinate with Fancy Sips to get a coffee-themed mixology class. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t too excited about the idea of coffee-themed cocktails. But the ones that we made actually ended up being delicious!

I was especially delighted by this Cafe Perk a l’Orange. Citrus and coffee and milk did not sound good, but it was actually delicious!

I also wasn’t totally sure how fun a mixology class would be, but I had a blast. Our host was former American Idol contestant Diana DeGarmo. Does anyone else remember who she is? I’ve only ever watched one season of American Idol, but I got really into it at the time – reading the forum threads at Television Without Pity and trying to predict what was going on backstage. And it was the season that Diana was in, and she was one of my favorite contestants!

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I was tickled to have Diana as our host, and she was really fun and entertaining – I learned much more than I expected.

My friends Mike and Brittney joined the class as well, and afterward, the three of us got on a Zoom together to catch up. I haven’t seen them in person since last summer, and it was so great to catch up with them on video! I ended up staying on the line with them for two hours, which was way later than I anticipated staying up… but was so fun 🙂

The next morning, my alarm went off at 6am, and while I hadn’t gotten as much sleep as I wanted, I woke up really awake, refreshed, and excited for a day of teaching. I did a 20 minute Peloton core class, followed by a Jess Sims “Flash 15” class, which is kind of a mix of weights and cardio. I really like the Flash 15 classes, especially as an early morning warmup before a day of teaching!

In addition to that little stack, getting up at 6am meant I had time to relax and catch up on emails and a few articles while eating breakfast, and still get out the door on time. It felt nice to have that extra time in the morning to relax and read rather than just rushing out the door – I should try to incorporate something like this into my regular workday too. (Though that’s a bit tough when I often have calls at 6am or 7am.)

On Saturday, I was teaching a private class – a family of four, with two adults and two teenagers. The mom had told me in my pre-lesson call that the kids were much better than the adults, so I stuck with the adults on the first run, but that ended up being a mistake as one of the kids ended up struggling! I stuck with her for our first few runs and helped her rebuild her confidence, and then when we headed to the top of the mountain after lunch, she was doing great and I was able to spread my attention throughout the whole family.

Although of course we all need to be well-rounded instructors who can teach anyone, I’ve found that my sweet spot is often in building confidence, particularly with women. So much of skiing is confidence, as having the right attitude can really affect the minute adjustments in stance that end up having a major impact on performance. For example, when you get scared, you tend to lean backward into the hill – but to ski well, you need to be leaning forward down the hill and making sure your weight doesn’t get too far back.

I’ve quickly learned that a big part of being a ski instructor is recognizing when people are open and ready to learn, and what style of learning is best for them. When you’re scared, you can’t learn anything new, so I try to focus on praising guests for what they are doing right, and then making one correction at a time and tackling the “low hanging fruit” first so they can feel the rewards of immediate improvement. In Saturday’s lesson, I was thrilled that this approach worked really well with the daughter. At the beginning of the day, she literally took her skis off during her first run and wanted to just walk down to the lodge and quit. But by the end, she was skiing like a champ!

In the afternoon, we were rewarded with some fresh powder at the top, and the smooth snow helped everyone in the family feel more confident. I was able to teach a few things to each person, and I was really thrilled by the progress I saw. They will get even better over the next few days as they continue to practice!

I had a quiet night after work and went to bed early, but in spite of that extra sleep, I was jolted awake but my alarm at 6:30am. Thanks, time change! For some reason, I had it in my head that spring meant it would be light earlier rather than dark later, and I was bitterly disappointed when I realized that wasn’t the case. Womp womp!

Between the darkness and feeling groggy, I was pretty slow about getting ready, which meant I didn’t have time to do another Flash 15 class like I wanted. But I did at least squeeze in a 5 minute core class, so that I had done something. I made my usual ski breakfast (English muffins topped with cottage cheese, plus decaf coffee), and headed out the door earlier than usual – I needed to stop at the grocery on the way to the mountain, to pick up candy. I was teaching a six year old today, and I’ve learned that Starbursts and Skittles can really help pick up kids from an energy slump on the mountain 🙂

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Yum yum yum! Love Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel seasoning…

It had been a long time since I’d been in the candy aisle at the grocery store, and I have to admit, I was awed by all the options. With Easter coming, they had all kinds of Peeps on the shelf, including birthday cake flavored Peeps. I wouldn’t say I’m a big Peeps fan, but those sounded kind of yummy? Though not enough to actually buy a whole pack. If you’ve tried these, let me know!

Unfortunately, my dawdling in the candy aisle meant that I was running a little bit late to the mountain, and I got to my lesson meeting spot at exactly 9am rather than early, like I usually try to be. And when I got there, I learned that the six year old I was teaching was not actually a level 4 skier, as my instructor notes had read, but a level 1 who was just learning to wedge. Surprise! So much for the route I had planned in my head to tour him around the mountain.

However, part of my job is being able to adapt – and we spent the morning on the bunny slope at Bachelor Gulch, then took the bus over to Beaver Creek in the afternoon to hit the bunny slopes there. While progress in the morning was a bit slow, in the afternoon, we started on the magic carpets right at the base, and with a help of an Edgy Wedgie, my student was able to nail the wedge – even once I took the Edgy Wedgie off. Success!

We headed up Haymeadow Gondola to the teaching area there, and spent the rest of the afternoon in the Wagon Train area, playing Red Light Green Light over and over. And he had so much fun and made so much progress that his mom ended up signing up for another day of private lessons on Monday! I was excited.

On the bus back to Bachelor Gulch from Beaver Creek, my student fell asleep… and when I got home at the end of the day, I felt exactly the same and wanted to go to bed as soon as possible 🙂 After lounging around for a little while, I forced myself to at least do a 10 minute Peloton strength class, and that did help me perk up. By the time I finished the class, I had enough energy to also encourage myself to press play on a 15 minute core class, which helped round out my workouts for the day. I took a quick shower and threw some fresh mushrooms on top of a frozen pizza for Pi Day dinner, then ended my night with a video catch up call with some friends. Solid Sunday!

I was really glad I had signed up for another day of teaching on Monday, since the storm had hit back in the Front Range in earnest Sunday… and there was no way I was going to be able to drive home until Tuesday. But when I checked in with Mom, she and Sadie were still doing fine, and she urged me to stay out in the mountains until the roads were clear. That worked for me! I just wished the storm were reversed, and that we had the snow in the mountains for skiing 🙂

My day of teaching was a good one though – my student was in a great mood, and I saw several ski instructors I knew in the same area teaching their students the same things. It can sometimes be frustrating when you need to repeat basic concepts like a wedge or a turn over and over, but repetition is how you get that “muscle memory”. And it’s fun to see my friends doing the same thing, and be able to commiserate a bit and/or share tips to make it more interesting! The day went by pretty fast, and I was even able to take my student on his very first ski lift at the end of the day, which made him really excited and his mom thrilled.

Look at us on the chairlift! 👍

Tuesday was my last day on the teaching schedule, but I wasn’t actually booked with any clients. Since private lessons must be booked 48 hours in advance, this usually means that you are just a backup for any instructors who no show. I packed up all my stuff at my house, thinking I’d head to the mountain for lineup and likely be dismissed shortly after. But – surprise! – I ended up getting another family lesson to teach. Once again, I had two parents and two kids, but the kids were only seven years old. They were both good little skiers, but one of them didn’t want to be there, so I spent most of the day trying to figure out which trails or activities would be exciting for him. Finally, at the end of the day, I hit on a winner – the kids’ adventure zone! A little challenging for the parents (since there are lots of little bumps that are easier for kids’ lower center of gravity), but I was just glad I could make him smile. Unfortunately, the final run down the mountain at the end of the day was not a hit – Cinch is a very long cat track down to the base, and I ended up wishing I had stuck to my guns and insisted we download the gondola to the bottom instead of doing it. We ended up getting down the mountain well past our 3:30pm official stop time, but I hoped I had at least made it a good guest experience by staying late!

And taking lots of pics to help document the family vacation!

I headed back to my mountain house planning to just throw my stuff into the car and head out, but alas – it was not to be. When I got on the highway, I found that Vail Pass was closed, so I had to turn around and head back to Minturn for the night. I was so bummed, especially since there wasn’t an estimated reopening time – I missed my Mom and Sadie! But I made dinner, caught up on some work emails, and got to bed early so I could get up and make the drive home at 6am the next morning. It was going to be good to be home!


2 thoughts on “Weekend Recap: Spring Break Ski Lessons”

  1. I’ll be picking up that bagel seasoning tomorrow and will make the cottage cheese English muffins on Wednesday. That is my ideal breakfast.

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